I’m not the first–and I won’t be the last–to compare Eagle courts of honor with weddings. I must say, however, that I’ve been to some courts of honor that were so deadly serious that they seemed more like funerals.
The thing about weddings is that everybody who gets married has one. It may be a five-minute ceremony at the courthouse, it may be an informal affair in the backyard, or it may rival a royal coronation for pomp and circumstance, but it’s something everybody does.
Not every Scout who reaches Boy Scouting’s highest rank gets a court of honor, however. I think that’s a shame. Even though having a court of honor is not required to become an Eagle Scout, every new Eagle Scout ought to have his moment in the spotlight.
There are several reasons Scouts choose not to have courts of honor. When I was Scoutmaster, for example, we had a Scout go off to college right after earning his badge; by the time he was settled enough for us to plan a court of honor, his life had moved on and he’d lost interest in the sort of ceremony he’d seen in the past.
I think the main problem is that some Scouters–and not a few parents–have sent the message that only the royal-coronation style is acceptable. That doesn’t leave room for the shy Scout or the Scout who has fully embraced the concept of servant leadership to have a ceremony that fits his personality. It’s like telling a Vegas-wedding-chapel-style bride and groom that they have to get married in a cathedral. Or telling that guy with the tuxedo T-shirt that he must wear an actual tuxedo on his big day.
If you have a Scout who balks at having a court of honor, don’t simply take no for an answer. Dig a little deeper and see whether you can turn that no into a yes by planning a ceremony that fits him just right.
Remember my Scout who went off to college? He eventually returned, and we held the briefest of ceremonies, along with a reception for family and close friends. That ceremony became the basis for the College and Career script in The Eagle Court of Honor Book. He said afterwards he was glad he didn’t elope.
For more great ideas, check out my ebook, Showtime: 45 Top Tips from EagleBook.com and The Eagle Court of Honor Book; it costs just $2.99 and is available for immediate download from both EagleBook.com and Amazon.com.